An image of a supermoon taken in Ipswich.
An image of a supermoon taken in Ipswich. Margaret Midkiff

Why tonight's 'Super Pink Moon' won't actually be pink

PEOPLE across Australia will be waiting eagerly for the sun to set to catch a glimpse of tonight's Super Pink Moon.

One of a handful of times in the year where it is closer to Earth than on average, the moon will appear bigger and brighter than usual.

Contrary to its name, the moon will not actually be pink and USQ astrophysics professor Jonti Horner has explained why.

"It will look no different colour-wise to normal," Mr Horner said.

"The name comes from native American culture. In North America during April, there's a certain plant that flowers in the area."

Phlox subulata, or creeping phlox, is a wildflower that blooms profusely for 3 to 4 weeks in spring and it is said the moon was named by the tribes to recognise it was the time of the year for these flowers to bloom.

Mr Horner said social media caused the name to be picked up and spread across other parts of the world, such as Australia.

"It tells us a lot about how we think and how we observe the world," he said.

"Anything that gets people excited about any form of science must be a good thing.

"Particularly at the moment when people are having a very difficult and stressful time, Astronomy is a beautiful thing to turn to because it's something you can do with no special equipment."

"You don't need to invest money into binoculars or a telescope, all you need to do is go out in the backyard and look at the night sky."

Professor Jonti Horner is happy construction is complete on the Minerva Australis array of telescopes at USQ's Mt Kent observatory, Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
Professor Jonti Horner with the Minerva Australis array of telescopes at USQ's Mt Kent observatory. Kevin Farmer

He said the ideal time to observe the supermoon would be as it rises, for much of Southeast Queensland that occurs about 6pm.

"Catching it at moon rise is when it's at the most spectacular because it looks big and orange because of the lights coming through the atmosphere," Mr Horner said.

"That's when you really get a feel for the majesty of the full moon."

Venus is also visible out to the west at the moment. You can find it by looking for a bright light that looks like that of an aircraft flying by.

Read more stories by Toni Benson-Rogan.